By peoplestaff225
September 18, 2009 04:30 PM

Brendan McDermid/Landov

The emotional security of motherhood and marriage have transformed Kim Clijsters not only personally, but also professionally. Fresh on the heels of her big win at this year’s U.S. Open, the 26-year-old Belgian tennis star tells the Times Online that her game has changed in at least one notable respect since returning to the sport following a two year absence.

“I think I have an advantage,” she explained. “In the past I couldn’t keep it going mentally, now I can.”

The road to the award ceremony on Sunday was not without bumps, however; The effort to regain her strength and skill-level prior to delivering daughter Jada Ellie, 18 months, was complicated by how very little tennis Kim had played since retiring in 2007.

“Really, I’d only hit the ball three or four times since my first career ended,” she admits. “I had become pregnant, there was a further nine months of breastfeeding, I was helping take care of my father, who was so sick, there was my husband [Brian Lynch] to look after…To tell you the truth, having ten minutes to myself was a major relaxation.”

The rigors of training aside, her comeback was difficult — at least initially — for Jada as well. Kim adds, however, that her daughter has benefited from the change in routine. “I didn’t want her to be so connected with me that I couldn’t leave her side, it’s important she is around a lot of family, she can sleep at her grandparents, she can sleep at my sister’s,” she explains.

Echoing earlier sentiments, Kim says that she is hopeful her achievement resonates with working moms everywhere, and notes that the odds of as much are good given her fame as a former World No. 1. “Even before I started to play again, everyone was interested to know what stroller I was buying, what baby food Jada preferred … it is automatically a little different if you are a bit well known,” she says. “It is nice to know that what I have done here might inspire a few people.”

Source: Times Online

— Missy